We will continue what we started in the previous episode of Learn The English Tenses and continue talking about the present simple and present continuous. We will talk about some advanced and special uses for these two tenses.

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Welcome to the second episode of our learn the English tenses mini series from English plus podcast. In the first episode, we talked about the present simple and the present continuous, and we talk a little bit about the differences between them and we compared. The present simple and the present continuous, we will continue talking about the present simple and present continuous today.

[00:00:27] We will talk about some other differences. We’ll talk about state of verbs and we will talk about some advanced uses for both the present simple and the present continuous. So without further ado, Let’s start talking about the present simple and the present continuous in this episode from our mini series, learn the English senses.

[00:00:45] Now we said that we use continuous forms. Like I’m waiting, it’s raining for actions and happenings that have started, but not finished, but some verbs, for example, no. And like are not normally used in this way. We do not say I am knowing. They are liking. We say, I know they like now these verbs are called state of verbs and these are not usually used in the present.

[00:01:12] Continuous. Now we have a lot of verbs. I will mention some of them like, want, need refer. No realize, understand, recognize, believe, suppose, remember, mean belonged fit, contain, consists seam. These are state of verbs and these describe a state, not an action. And when you describe a state and not an action, you don’t usually use the verbiage, any continuous tense because continuous tenses talk about actions.

[00:01:45] Describe actions. For example, we say I’m hungry. I want something to eat, not unwanting. I say, for example, do you understand what I mean? Not are you understanding what I’m meaning? Even if it is happening at the moment of speaking, even if I’m talking about something that started, but hasn’t finished yet.

[00:02:05] But these are state of verbs. I don’t use them in continuous. I say, for example, Anna doesn’t seem very happy right now. Not isn’t seeming seeing that. That doesn’t mean that this is always the case. Sometimes some verbs. And I’ll give you an example now. Think. The verb thing is a state of verbiage, but when it comes in the meaning of believe, or you’re talking about an opinion and when it comes in this meaning we do not use it in the continuous.

[00:02:32] For example, we say, I think Mary is Canadian, but I’m not sure. In this case, we don’t say I’m sinking because here the meaning of thing is believe, I believe Mary is Canadian. I think Mary is Canadian. Or when I say, what do you think of my idea? What is your opinion here? I cannot say, what are you thinking of?

[00:02:53] All right, because here, the meaning of think is stated. But what if think means an action? What if it means to consider for example, Then the continuous as possible. It doesn’t mean you have to use it in the continuous. You still have to talk about something that has started and not finished yet a temporary thing, et cetera.

[00:03:11] Like we said last time. But here, if the meaning of things is consider continuous is possible. For example, we say, I’m thinking about what happened. I often think about it. So you see here, I can say I’m thinking about I’m considering that is an action or Nikki is thinking of giving up her job. She’s considering it.

[00:03:33] And here it is an action, so we can use it in the continuous. Now let’s talk about some other verbs from this category. See, hear, smell, taste, look, and feel the senses. Now we normally use the present, simple, not the continuous with see, hear, smell, and taste. Like when we say, do you see that man over there?

[00:03:51] Not, are you seeing, or the room smells let’s open a window or this soup doesn’t taste. Very good. All right. So here, when we talk about these, we usually use the present simple because these are States. But we can use the present simple or continuous. When you say how somebody looks or feels. Now you can say, for example, you look well today or you’re looking well today, or how do you feel now?

[00:04:17] Or how are you feeling now? Both are fine, but pay attention. I usually feel tired in the morning. Not unusually feeling because even when you can use the continuous, remember all the time, what do you want to talk about? Do you want to talk about something in general? Use the present. Simple. If you want to talk about something that’s happening right now, you can use the present continuous now for talking about, see, or hear, or smell or taste.

[00:04:43] Now I’ll give you a couple of examples about smell and taste. No smell and taste. Yes. There are state of verbs, but what if they are actions? They can be actions. They can be actions. Like for example, when you are smelling a flower. I’m smelling this flower right now. I have this flower in my hand and I’m smelling it.

[00:05:02] That is an action. Or I’m tasting the soup. Maybe I’m a chef or something. I’m tasting the soup to see if it is good. I’m not talking about the state of the soup. I’m not saying the soup tastes delicious. That’s something else. So you can still use it in the continuous. If the meaning is an action. If the verb first to an action, you can use it in the continuous, but remember one more time.

[00:05:27] If you want to use it in the continuous, you have to mean the continuous. Okay. And now let me tell you about a special combination with M is our being now you might say being, what is that? Yeah. That is verb to be in continuous. And we can do that. You can say he’s being, or you’re being to say how somebody is behaving.

[00:05:48] Now we can say, for example, I can’t understand why he’s being so selfish. He is not usually like that being selfish. That means behaving selfishly. Now it’s not BB of course is a state of verb because it is a state. But here, when we say being selfish, that means behaving selfishly. All right. And we usually say that when we say he’s being selfish, that means this is not usually the case.

[00:06:16] All right. So we’re talking about something that is not usual, he’s behaving in a different way than he behaves in general, or usually now another example, the past is IC don’t slip. Don’t worry. I’m being very careful. What does that mean? I’m behaving in a very careful way. Right. It’s not, I’m being, I’m not talking about my being.

[00:06:39] It’s not a state. It is an action. I’m behaving in a very careful way. And that is possible. Now compare these two examples. He never thinks about other people he’s very selfish. He never thinks about other people. That is the general thing. He is selfish generally. Not only now. Okay. And if it is the case you don’t use, he’s being very selfish because if you say he’s being very selfish, it’s like, you’re telling me that he’s not usually selfish.

[00:07:07] He is being selfish. He’s behaving selfishly now, but that’s not the case. In this example, he never thinks about other people. He is very selfish. You don’t need to use, he is being here. And another example. I don’t like to take risks. I’m a very careful person. I am not, I am being a very careful person. I am being a very careful person.

[00:07:30] That means as if I am not usually a careful person, but I’m being a careful person. Now I am behaving carefully. That’s not the case. I said at the beginning, I don’t like to take risks. So I am a very careful person. Not I am being okay. We use M is our being to say how a person is behaving, doing something they can control.

[00:07:54] Okay. So remember that now here we cannot use it for things that you cannot control. It is not usually possible. In other situations you can’t say, for example, Sam is being ill. Well, what does that mean is being ill is behaving ill. That is something out of his control. Sam is ill. Sam is sick. Or we can say, are you tired?

[00:08:15] Not, are you being tired? This is not something you can control. You’re either tired or not. That’s a state. So here are you tired? Not, are you being tired? Okay. So just remember we use that to talk about behavior, to describe it the way you are behaving now. And usually we use that to talk about something that is not usual is not characteristic to you.

[00:08:40] If I say, for example, you are being careful. That means you’re not usually careful. You’re behaving in a careful way. Or when we say, for example, you’re being selfish. That means you’re behaving in a selfish way, but that’s not the way you are. That’s not how usually you are, you are usually a very generous person.

[00:08:57] Why are you being selfish? We can do that. All right. Let’s remember M is, are with being means behaving. We’re talking about behavior. That’s why we can use it in continuous, because that is an action. That is not a state. Now let’s move on and talk about some other more advanced topics. We will talk about some other uses of state of verbs and about some other things.

[00:09:19] Now let’s continue talking about state verbs. We can use the present continuous with some state verbs, like attract, like look, love and sound to emphasize that a situation is temporary or for a period of time around the present. Now compare these examples. Ella stays with us quite often. The children love having her here.

[00:09:42] Well, that is a general thing. Ella stays with us quite often. Okay. So this is not something that is happening on a temporary basis. This is a permanent thing, but what if I say Ella’s with us at the moment, the children are loving having her here. The children are loving. This is possible because we can use these verbs, state verbs, obviously incontinuous to emphasize that a situation is temporary or for a period of time around the present.

[00:10:10] Like we said, here, Ella is with us at the moment the children are loving having her here. Uh, state verbs, which we rarely use with the present, continuous include beliefs consists of doubt and own. So it doesn’t apply to all state of verbs, but it applies to some of them. What I’m trying to say is that most of grammar rules are there, there to be broken.

[00:10:31] You can break grammar rules, you need to understand the concepts behind the grammar rules so that you can break them whenever you want. Yeah. Sometimes you can’t break the rules. I know that, but most of the times, These rules can be bent and sometimes broken. Now, some verbs have different meanings when they are used to talk about States.

[00:10:51] And when they describe actions with their state meanings, they usually take simple rather than continuous forms with their action meanings. They may take simple or continuous forms depending on the context. Now compare these examples. The app doesn’t appear to work on my phone. No appear here is a state and the meaning is seen.

[00:11:14] But when you say, for example, Carly, Rob is currently appearing in a musical on Broadway. She often appears in musicals here appear doesn’t mean same anymore. It’s not a state. It’s an action appear here means take part. Now of course we can go on and on and talk about examples. We have a lot of examples, but you can investigate on your own.

[00:11:36] And actually, I kind of encourage you to investigate on your own. I’ll give you some verbs. You can investigate costs, expect, feel fit, have imagined, measure, think weigh. All of these verbs have state of meanings. Which we cannot use in the continuous and they have action meanings. So I want you to investigate these verbs and find on your own.

[00:11:58] And if you have any questions, of course, all the time, feel free to reach out and send any questions you want. Whether directly on our Patrion page, as a comment on our website, English plus, or you can contact me directly, you can go to our contact page and then you can send me any questions you want.

[00:12:16] And I will answer them as soon as I can. Now let’s move on to talk about mental state verbs with some verbs describing mental States, like find, realize, regret, think, and understand we can use the present continuous to emphasize that we have recently started to think about something or that we are not sure about something I’ll compare these examples.

[00:12:38] I regret that the company will have to be sold here. The meaning is I’ve made the decision and I’m sorry about it. And what if we say I’m regretting my decision to give her the job now here, the meaning is a little bit different. I’m increasingly aware that it was the wrong decision. I’m regretting. So here slightly different in meaning, but you can see here.

[00:13:04] The first one is state. The second one is an action. When it means, think carefully about consider is only used with the present. Continuous, for example, he’s considering taking early retirement, not he considers taking early retirement because the meaning here is thinking carefully about it. He’s considering it.

[00:13:24] He’s thinking carefully about it. Now. Some other verbs describing preferences and mental States like agree, believe, conclude, no prefer are rarely used with the present. Continuous. Well, we say, for example, I believe you now not unbelieving you now. So remember all these rules are there to be bent broken sometimes, but you have to respect some of the rules that cannot be broken.

[00:13:50] And usually it’s not normal to say, I am believing you now. Okay. You have this meaning in your head that it’s happening. It’s an action. It’s not an action, actually. It’s a state. Okay. But it is very important to understand not the exceptions to the rules. I’m not talking about exceptions here. I’m talking about ways to bend and break the rules to help you with what you want to say.

[00:14:13] Because remember grammar is a tool in your hand and especially the tenses, they will help you express yourself or express the meaning you have in mind correctly. It’s not the other way around. You don’t learn grammar to have a meaning in your mind, you have a meaning first, and then you look for the right grammar method or tool to use, to express this meaning correctly so that people can understand you better.

[00:14:37] Now let’s talk about another thing and that is what we called. Performatives. What do we mean by this big word performative. Now we use the present simple with verbs, which perform the action. They describe perform performatives that’s the meaning of performatives. We don’t need to remember these words.

[00:14:55] Of course, these titles, these big grammar words, but performatives are the verbs which perform the action they describe, we call them performatives and we usually use the presence simple with these verbs. I’ll give you a couple of examples. I suggest you bark outside the city and get the bus to the center, or we request that you read the terms and conditions carefully before signing suggest requests.

[00:15:22] These are verbs which perform the action data scribe. We call them performance. We have other verbs, of course, like performance, like acknowledge, admit, advise apologize, beg, confess, congratulate, declare, deny. For bid guarantee, name, order, permit, predict, promise, refuse, remind requests thing, and Warren, these are performative and we usually use them in present simple.

[00:15:49] Some verbs used as performatives with a present simple in affirmative sentences, like apologize, deny, guarantee, promise, and suggest they have similar meaning with either the present simple or the present continuous in negative sentences. For example, you could say, I don’t deny taking the books. What Miguel said it would be.

[00:16:07] Okay. Or we can say I’m not denying taking the books, but Miguel said it would be okay. So these verbs in negative are okay. They have similar meaning whether you use them in present simple or present, continuous models are often used with performatives to make what we say more tentative or polite. Back when you say we would advise you to arrive two hours before the flight leaves, that sounds a little bit more tentative or more polite, or I must beg you to keep this as sacred.

[00:16:40] Okay. So now let’s talk about some other uses and some other important uses to be honest. These are nuances. These are some more advanced I would have to say, but these are very important. You find them everyday. And I don’t want you to be shocked when you find these examples and you kind of come back to me and tell me, you told us that you should use the present simple here or the present continuous here, but we found that they use the other attends.

[00:17:04] But as I told you, grammar rules are out there just to be bent and broken all the time. Of course you need to know the basics. Grammar rule, because that is important to help you express yourself. But there are a lot of exceptions. There are a lot of bending in the rules and breaking the rules. Now let’s talk about some of these breaking the rules or some of the uses for the present, simple and continuous in specific contexts.

[00:17:29] Now we often use the present simple and present continuous in stories and jokes in informal spoken English to create the impression that events are happening now. This can make the more direct and exciting and hold people’s attention. For example, we say, she goes up to this man and look straight into his eyes.

[00:17:48] He’s not wearing his glasses and he doesn’t recognize her. Now, if you tell a story like this, Whether it’s a joke or not. If you tell a story like this, it is a little bit closer to people. It holds people’s attention better, better than using the past. For example, because the past is a little bit more distant.

[00:18:09] So here, this is a way to hold people’s attention, use, present simple and present continuous another example. The man’s playing golf. When a kangaroo bounds up to him, grabs his club and hits his ball about half a mile. So this is another story. It might not be a good joke of course, but the point is we can use the present simple and continuous to make it more direct, exciting, and hold people’s attention.

[00:18:34] Yeah, the main events are usually described in sequence using the present simple and longer background events are described using the present continuous that’s the technique in narratives and anecdotes. The present simple can be used to highlight an event often. It is used after past tenses and with a phrase such as suddenly or all of a sudden, for example, I was sitting in the park, reading a newspaper.

[00:18:57] I was see here it’s past, but then I want to add some excitement when all of a sudden this dog jumps at me jumps, that’s present simple. So here, yes, you might’ve heard that before. Don’t mix tenses together. Don’t mix the past and the present together. And that is correct. But if you want to tell a story, you can mix the present and the past.

[00:19:20] Just to add some excitement in stories in narratives and anecdotes. So I will read this example to you. Again, I was sitting in the park, reading a newspaper when all of a sudden this dog jumps at me. So you see here, I was sitting this dog jumps, that’s present. The other one is past. We can do that to add some excitement, to make it more interesting to listeners or to readers.

[00:19:45] Now, what else do we use the present simple and present continuous. And we use it in live commentaries, for example, on sports events. When the report takes place at the same time as the action, for example, King serves to the left-hand court and Adam makes a wonderful return. She’s playing magnificent tennis in this match.

[00:20:04] No, you hear that all the time. When people commentate on sports events, whether it’s football, basketball, tennis, et cetera, because they need to make you feel that you are there, whether you are listening to it on the radio or you’re watching on it TV, it cannot be. For example, imagine how dull it would be.

[00:20:24] King served to the left-hand court and Adams made a wonderful return. She was bleeding, a magnificent, ah, that’s not going to make it feel interested. That’s not going to excite you in any way. I mean, the present here is closer to you is more direct, holds the readers or the listeners attention better. So we use it obviously in life commentaries.

[00:20:49] That’s the most obvious choice. Uh, we can use the presence simple in phrases, such as it says there, or I hear, or I gather, I see, I understand. And they say, or someone says, or someone tells me to introduce news that we have heard read or seen on television, for example, or been told. We can also use past tenses here.

[00:21:12] We can say it’s said here, or I heard both are possible, but where you can use your past or present, for example, we can say, I gather, you’re worried about Pedro or Sophia tells me you’re thinking of immigrating or professor Hendrix is at the conference and I hear she’s an excellent speaker. All right. So here you can use the past.

[00:21:33] If you want. You can say, I heard you can say Sophia told me you’re thinking of immigrating and that’s possible, but you can use the present as well, if you want. So, because we’re talking about present simple and present continuous, I will have to tell you about the different situations into different contexts.

[00:21:48] You can use the present continuous and present simple in. Now let’s talk about news headlines, because that is obviously a good place to use the present. Even when you are talking about things that happened in the past, but you want to make that more urgent. Why would I want to read something that happened in the past?

[00:22:07] I know that it happened in the past. I’m reading it in the newspaper. That means it happened. But when I read the headline and it is used in the present, so that makes it more urgent. I would want to read it now. So the present simple is often used in news headlines to talk about events that have recently happened.

[00:22:25] Like when you say second quake hits Japan, fire breaks out in hotel room. Scientists find ice on the moon foreign minister resigns. They don’t use the past. Because that makes it distant. That makes it less interesting. That makes it sound like stale news. You wouldn’t want to read something that’s old.

[00:22:44] You want to read something that is fresh and present gives it this fresh meaning. Now we can also use the present simple to refer to the contents of books, films, newspapers, et cetera. For example, Thompson gives me a list of the largest European companies in chapter six or at the beginning of the book.

[00:23:02] Three men find $4 million in a crashed plane or in the film, Lonnie Brunelleschi takes the role of a private detective. So you get the point. Now we’ve arrived to our final point for this episode. And that is when we use the present continuous with adverbs, such as always constantly continually or forever.

[00:23:23] Why do we use that? We use that to emphasize that something is done so often that it is characteristic of a person group or thing. For example, I think I’ll stay here after all. And the other person responds to me and say, you’re constantly changing your mind. You’re constantly changing your mind. It is become characteristic of you and I’m kind of criticizing you here.

[00:23:46] Okay. I don’t like it. Not one bit. You’re always doing that. You’re constantly doing that. You’re continually doing that. You’re forever doing that. If you use always constantly, continually or forever with present continuous, that means you’re criticizing something because that thing has become characteristic of this person and you don’t like it.

[00:24:05] I’ll give you other examples. Jacob is a really kind person he’s always offering to help me with my work. Well, here, you might say that this is not criticism, right? Yeah. It can be used to talk about things that are not criticism. And I intentionally gave you this example here to show you that yes, we can use it not to criticize people.

[00:24:25] We can use it to emphasize that something is done so often that it is characteristic of this person. And in this case, it’s a good thing. Of course, he’s always offering to help me with my work. But it is usually used to indicate this approval. We usually use this expression or this form to criticize people.

[00:24:45] So we often use this pattern to indicate this approval at the past. Continuous is used in a similar way with these adverbs. For example, was Olivia always asking you for money too. So here we can use that always with asking and that’s past continuous. We will talk more about past continuous in the episodes to come, of course, but that is just to mention that we can use the past continuous as well in this form, in this context to mean disapproval or to show our disapproval.

[00:25:12] Now the final point. Is that we can use the present continuous to describe something we regularly do at a certain time. Now you might say we regularly do at a certain time. That’s present simple, right? Yes it is. But if you want to mention the exact time you can use the present. Continuous, for example, you can say at eight o’clock, I’m usually driving to work.

[00:25:33] So call me on my cell phone or. Seven o’clock is a bit early. We’re generally eating. Then you see here where generally eating them. You can say we generally eat by then, but it is more natural to say what you usually do, what you regularly do at a specific time using the present continuous that might.

[00:25:52] Sound like a little bit surprising to you, but it is the case. So that being said, that’ll be everything I wanted to share with you about the present simple and the present continuous. In the next episode, we will start talking about the past simple and the past continuous. And let me remind you that you will find exercises.

[00:26:08] If you take the link, you can find in the description of the episode, go to our website, English plus Practice the things you’ve learned in this episode. And also in the first episode, we have a custom post for the first episode and exercises for the first episode, when we are done with the mini series, I’m going to put all the exercises together in an exercise booklet, and I’m going to share it with my patron, but don’t wait until then trust me, do the exercises.

[00:26:34] Along the way after you listen to one of the episodes, go ahead and do the exercises because you wouldn’t want to forget what you’re learning. And to be honest, we’re talking about a lot of things. So you would want to practice these things along the way. Now that being said, this is your host Daniel. I would like to thank you very much for listening to another episode and other premium episode from English. [00:26:56] Plus, I will see you next time.


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<a href="" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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